26th Annual Ann Ferren Conference on Teaching, Research, and Learning

The 2015 Ann Ferren Conference was held on Friday, January 9, 2015 in the Mary Graydon Center at American University.

Schedule of Events

Ann Ferren Conference Logo


A: AU Entrée Program Teaching Strategies Workshop

(for first and second year term and tenure-line faculty) – with Cathy Schaeff(CAS-BIO) and Max Paul Friedman (CAS-HIST)

Please join us to discuss building a class from the learning objectives forward, promoting critical thinking, leveraging DC’s off-campus resources, and using technology to promote student engagement.

B: Experiential Learning without the Grind: Making Coffee as an Exercise in Overcoming the Collective Action Problem

(for Greenberg students, years one, two, and three) – with Todd Eisenstadt (SPA-GOVT)

This session illustrates experiential learning by asking students to spend the first half of the session solving a problem which the instructor used on the first day of class. After participating in the simulation exercise, the group will discuss the conduct of experiential learning and simulations.

C: Chairs and Directors Round-Table: Peer Observation of Teaching

(for department chairs and directors) – with Mary Clark (Interim Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice Provost) and Marilyn Goldhammer (CTRL and SETH)

Join us to discuss ways in which peer observation of teaching can enhance, refine and improve classroom instruction as part of, or separate from, a formal mentoring model including: planning observations, providing feedback to faculty and crafting observation rubrics.

D: Adjunct Faculty at AU: Experiences and Contemporary Issues

(for adjunct faculty) – with William M. LeoGrande (Associate Vice Provost) and an SEIU Local 500 representative

This session will provide adjunct faculty with an opportunity to share experiences and issues with one another and with Associate Vice-Provost William M. LeoGrande, who serves as the university’s liaison with adjuncts and the adjunct faculty union, SEIU Local 500.

E: Building a Term Faculty Career: Service, Inclusion, and Governance

Ralph Sonenshine (CAS-ECON) (Chair), Kimberly Cowell-Meyers (SPA-GOVT), Robert Kelley (SIS), Jeff Sosland (SPExS), and Emily Lindsay (KSB-ACCT)

Are you aware of the recent and exciting changes term faculty have advocated for at all levels of the university? Come join fellow term faculty from across the university for presentations and discussions on governance issues ranging from service equity to term faculty involvement in reappointment and promotion.

F: General Education and Practical Skills

(for faculty teaching and wanting to teach General Education courses) – with Andrea Tschemplik (General Education Program) (Chair) and Emily White (General Education Program)

Too often people assume that general education does not provide the students with practical skills. In this session we will try to deconstruct that myth by showing why all the learning outcomes in our Gen Ed program are practical skills.

G: Honors Program: Call for Interdisciplinary, Team-Taught Courses for the New AU Honors Program

(for faculty teaching and wanting to teach Honors courses) – with Larry Engel(SOC) (Chair), Sally Fowler (KSB-MGMT), Douglas Klusmeyer (SPA-JLC), Michael Manson (AU Honors Program), Mary Mintz (Library), and Lyn Stallings (Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies)

In this session, you will learn what the Honors Advisory Committee is looking for in course proposals for the New Honors Program, and we will facilitate the creation of new courses by introducing faculty to colleagues interested in teaching in the new program.


T1: Combine Your iPad and iPhone To Teach, Present, Write, and Conduct Research

Brian Yates (CAS-PSYC)

Combining your iPhone and iPad gives you both something to connect to a projector and a wireless remote control for presenting lectures, running meetings, and illustrating research findings. No WiFi needed.

T2: Memrise: A Fun, Free Fact Memorization App

Ken Knight (CAS-WLC)

This session discusses using Memrise, an app that relies on quizzes to allow students to enjoy memorizing concepts or facts in an individualized, instructor-created course (with mnemonics and audio recordings) on their mobile devices at their leisure.

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T3: Managing Project-Based Courses and Learning Outcomes through Game-Like Syllabi

Christopher W. Totten (CAS-ART)

This session demonstrates how project-based courses can be managed using syllabi that capture the interactive spirit and fun of popular games. Attendees will learn how to turn their learning outcomes into game mechanics and structure assignments as game missions.

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T4: Overcoming Barriers to Heterogeneous-Group Learning

Ryan T. Moore (SPA-GOVT)

This session introduces participants to a new way to generate learning groups that are both heterogeneous and balanced. It discusses how and why creating such groups can improve classroom exercises.

T5: Secrets of the Funded Scholar: An Overview of Grant Forward

Akidah Felder (Office of Sponsored Programs)

This session introduces Grant Forward (GF), which is the newest tool to be added to a set of “funding search” databases that AU’s Office of Sponsored Programs subscribes to. Grant Forward markets itself as a search engine that updates its funding opportunities twice a week.

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T6: Subtitling Your Lecture: A Short Primer 

Gorky Cruz (CAS-WLC) and Andrés Hidalgo (Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition & Research)

This session offers hands-on training on subtitling lectures by (1) using Amara (www.amara.org) to generate a timed subtitle file based on a lecture’s transcript and then (2) using Submerge (http://www.bitfield.se/submerge/) to manipulate the subtitle file and overlay it to the video lecture.

T7: Improving Smartphone Photography and Video for Class Projects

Larry Engel (SOC) (Chair) and Kyle Brannon (SOC) 

Smartphones are ubiquitous and can be used to create strong visual and aural media for the classroom or by students for course projects. Learn how to help yourself and your students improve media production with the tool that’s always with you.

T8: Geospatial Research Resources and Data Publishing & Visualization for AU Faculty

Stefan Kramer (Library) and Meagan Snow (Library)

Learn more about support and resources available through the University Library to AU faculty for geospatial research support and training (including the Geospatial Research Lab), and for management, visualization and publishing of their research data (including via opendata.american.edu).

T9: Introduction to Recording with Panopto

Library Staff

This session will cover what AU’s video-capture tool Panopto does, software and hardware requirements, and pedagogical enhancements it can provide to your class. Please bring your own laptop for this session.

T10: What’s New in Blackboard

Library Staff

This workshop is designed for faculty and staff who have experience using Blackboard and would like to learn about the new features that are coming in the new version in the Spring 2015 semester.

SESSION ONE (11:15 A.M. – 12:15 P.M.)

101: What We Say, What They Hear: Assignments Lost in Translation

Janet G. Auten (CAS-LIT) (Chair), Madison Chapman (Writing Center), Veronica Garrison-Joyner (Writing Center), Hanna Mangold (Writing Center), and Elizabeth TeVault (Writing Center)

The conflicting expectations and assumptions of faculty and students about assignments can interfere with teaching and learning. Four writing center consultants offer insights from their experiences working one-to-one with hundreds of students and suggest strategies for resolving such misunderstandings.

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102: Active Learning Made Easy 

Betsy Cohn (SIS)

It’s hard to get our students’ attention in an over-stimulated world. In conjunction with lecture, active learning exercises in class can focus student attention and deepen learning. You can use active learning exercises such as Pause2Reflect, brainstorming, ticket out the door, one-minute lecture, and super-sentence, without overhauling your syllabus.

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103: A Performing Professor: Acting Methods for Teaching and Public Speaking

Cara Gabriel (CAS-PERF) (Chair) and Karl Kippola (CAS-PERF)

Following a sampling of some basic acting techniques and methods, participants learn, via an interactive workshop, how to apply basic tenets of acting to their own teaching, presentations, or public speaking.

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104: Activism and the Academy 

Jeff Bachman (SIS) (Chair), Fanta Aw (OCL & SIS), Cynthia E. Jones (WCL), and Jamie Raskin (WCL)

This session begins with brief introductions of three AU faculty members’ work with students and colleagues on human rights activism; work on police violence and criminal justice; and combining the role of constitutional law professor with service as a Maryland State Senator. This is followed by a discussion of the role of the academy and its members in advocating for change.

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105: Roundtable on Teaching the Hip Hop Generation 

Caleen Jennings (CAS-PERF) (Chair), Keith Leonard (CAS-LIT), and Theresa Runstedtler (CAS-HIST)

This roundtable seeks to explore how faculty members from across generations and from different backgrounds and identities can draw pedagogical inspiration from hip hop culture.

106: Teaching Digitally to Millennials 

Brigid Maher (SOC) (Chair), Leena Jayaswal (SOC), and Kristian Perry (SOC)

This panel provides ideas and approaches on how to encourage students who feel they already know the digital world, to engage with the deeper implications and applications of the technology in an academic and professional context.

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107: What Is Game Research and How Can You Use It?

Mike Treanor (CAS-CSC) (Chair), Lindsay Grace (SOC), Josh McCoy (CAS-CSC), and Christopher W. Totten (CAS-ART)

This session demonstrates how game researchers expand our understanding of games as a medium and how games can change the world. Learn how you can use games and gamification in your teaching and research.

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108: When Students Cheat: What Do I Do?

John Hyman (CAS-LIT) (Chair), David Culver (CAS-ENVS), and Patrick Thaddeus Jackson (SIS)

Academic dishonesty is an unpleasant and even unwelcome topic, but one that all face. This session provides an opportunity to share both approaches to the problem and specific ways to preempt dishonesty.

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109: Leadership Development and Other Experiential Learning

Margaret Marr (SPA) (Chair), Jane Palmer (SPA-PUAD), and Meg Weekes (CAS), Joelle Appenrodt (Class of 2015), Rahi Patel (Class of 2016), and Madison Hayes (Class of 2016)

Learn about AU’s many leadership development and experiential learning programs. Share knowledge of your own efforts to develop students’ leadership skills, employ experiential learning, develop strong ethics, and interweave theory with hands-on practice.

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110: How Students Can Learn Science by Doing Science 

Meg Bentley (CAS-BIO) (Chair), Matthew Hartings (CAS-CHEM), Jonathan Newport(CAS-PHYS), and Nancy Zeller (CAS-BIO)

This conversation examines the role of the laboratory in science education and how lab work can provide an authentic and meaningful research experience for students. Participants should come with ideas for best-practices and obstacles encountered along the way.

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111: What’s New in Blackboard

Library Staff

This workshop is designed for faculty and staff who have experience using Blackboard and would like to learn about the new features that are coming in the new version in the Spring 2015 semester.

PLENARY SESSION (12:30 P.M. – 2:15 P.M.)

Why Liberal Education Matters

(by Michael S. Roth, President of Wesleyan University)

Dr. Roth draws on his new book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (Yale University Press, 2014), to discuss the debate over the benefits—or drawbacks—of a broad-based liberal education. Critics of higher education have attacked its irrelevance and elitism—often calling for more vocational instruction. Roth will focus on important moments and seminal thinkers in America’s long-running argument over vocational vs. liberal education (including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Jane Addams and John Dewey) to develop his own defense of a “pragmatic liberal education.”

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SESSION TWO (2:30 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.)

201: Supporting Students with Writing Challenges

Emma Fawcett (AU Writing Lab) (Chair), Ira Fabri (Academic Support and Access Center), Jordan Grant (AU Writing Lab), and Nancy Sydnor-Greenberg (Academic Support and Access Center)

This panel, featuring staff from the AU Writing Lab, addresses some of the writing-related difficulties faced by international students and students requiring accommodations. The session seeks to provide advice and helpful tools for faculty to support students facing these challenges.

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202: Encouraging Discussion, Participation, and Enthusiasm in Class 

Chris Palmer (SOC)

This session provides an opportunity to learn various techniques and ideas for encouraging students to participate more in class discussions and to be more enthusiastic and motivated.

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203: Students as Public Speakers: In and Beyond the Classroom

Bonnie Auslander (KSB) (Chair), Sally Fowler (KSA-MGMT), Michael Matos(Library), and Casey Evans (KSB-ACCT)

Students who practice public speaking not only gain mastery of your course material but also improve in this crucial workplace and life skill. This session discusses the best methods for incorporating student public speaking into your course and how to best assess public speaking.

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204: Using Current Events as Teachable Moments

Pilar McKay (SOC) (Chair), Lindsay Grace (SOC), Molly O’Rourke (SOC), and Margot Susca (SOC)

Current events do not slow down when classes start. Panelists provide techniques and ideas to integrate current events into your curriculum to help your students actively engage with history and the news.

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205: Respecting and Cultivating Intellectual Diversity in the Classroom 

Jessica Waters (SPA-JLC) (Chair), Briana Weadock (SPA-GOVT), Fanta Aw (OCL and SIS), Nicholas Hunt (Class of 2017), Becca Lamb (Class of 2017), Tatiana Laing (Class of 2016), and Paul Wells (Class of 2016) 

Intellectual diversity is a critical aspect of AU’s efforts to cultivate diversity. This student and faculty panel will discuss ways in which faculty can foster robust discussion and debate in the classroom while creating an atmosphere of respect for all viewpoints.

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206: Enhancing Student Engagement in the Online Classroom 

Sonja Walti (SPA-PUAD) (Chair), Bernhard G. Gunter (CAS-ECON), Karl Kippola(CAS-PERF), and Laura March (CTRL)

Student participation in the online classroom is critical yet often lagging or lacking. This session explores questions such as: What role does student engagement play in the online classroom? What techniques, incentives, and pedagogical tools can instructors use to enhance online student engagement?

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207: Media Opportunities for Your Scholarship

Chris Edelson (SPA-GOVT) (Chair) and J. Paul Johnson (University Communications)

Faculty looking to gain media exposure for their scholarship can benefit from working with communications and public relations specialists at AU. This session discusses a case study to show how you can take full advantage of media exposure for your work.

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208: RA/TA Training: What Has, Can, and Should Be Done 

Michael Keynes (CAS-MATH & Office of Graduate Studies) (Chair), Marshay Hall(Office of Graduate Studies), and Martyn Oliver (Office of Graduate Studies)

Recently, AU has provided campus-wide training for RAs and TAs. This session presents what steps have already been taken, asks attendees what exists in their departments, and discusses future developments in RA/TA training. Participation from the audience is essential.

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209: Internship Mentoring: A Conversation with Faculty 

Brian Rowe (Career Center) (Chair), Michelle Egan (SIS), Larry Kirkman (SOC), and Walter Park (CAS-ECON)

Join this discussion of best practices and success in mentoring and guiding students through academic internships. The session features a panel of three faculty facilitated by the Career Center’s Director of Experiential Education.

210: Bridging Classroom and Community through Community-Based Learning

Marcy Fink Campos (Center for Community Engagement & Service) (Chair), Easten Law (SIS), Kim Llerena (SOC), and Jane Palmer (SPA-PUAD)

Community-based learning (CBL) is gaining momentum on AU’s campus through the new “CB” course designation, the Community-Based Research Scholars Program, a Faculty Fellows Institute, and new CBL AU Abroad courses. Find out what contributes to its success as well as the challenges faced.

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211: Introduction to Blackboard Collaborate

Library Staff

Using Collaborate, professors can talk with students, share applications, files and images and record these sessions for future use. Please join us to learn how Collaborate can help you offer a remote review session or office hour, face a weather emergency, or teach a hybrid class.

SESSION THREE (3:45 P.M. – 4:45 P.M.)

301: Assessing Assessment: What Gen Ed and College Writing Have Learned

Andrea Tschemplik (General Education Program) (Co-Chair), Jocelyn McCarthy(CAS-LIT) (Co-Chair), Cindy Bair Van Dam (CAS-LIT), and Teresa Larkin (CAS-PHYS)

In the hopes of fostering university-wide discussion about assessment and learning, the facilitators share their recent assessments of student research and writing skills – what they examined, what they learned (about our programs and the assessment process, itself) – and facilitate a Q&A about what’s next.

302: Block Classes: Engagement High, Dead Time Low

Robert Johnson (SPA-JLC) (Chair), Amy Eisman (SOC), and Rainey Ransom (SPA-JLC)

Do some of your block classes have students dragging in after a full-day internship or part-time job? Panelists discuss how they engage students by employing a variety of instructional strategies. Topics covered include group work, assignment development and a growing emphasis on experiential learning.

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303: Habit and Critical Thinking 

Richard C. Sha (CAS-LIT) (Co-Chair) and Rose Shinko (SIS) (Co-Chair)

What if “critical thinking” were merely our academic habits? This session suggests answers to this question, while discussing how critical thinking helps students realize that learning is a process of social construction and engagement across a variety of perspectives.

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304: Fostering Global Thinking Using Orchestrated News Discussions

Richard Linowes (KSB-MGMT) (Chair), Abigail Frost (Class of 2015), Brian Hagerott (Class of 2015), David Horowitz (Class of 2015), Ian Lutz (Class of 2015), and Robia Ablak (Class of 2015)

Following astronauts who circled the globe, this new classroom exercise takes students around the world as news reporters. During each class session, they report and discuss the global news and market coverage of the Economistmagazine and Wall Street Journal, rotating through topics week to week.

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305: Who are Our Undergraduate Students?

Fanta Aw (OCL And SIS) (Chair), Traci Callandrillo (Counseling Center), and Jimmy Ellis (Office of the Provost)

This session offers insights into three segments of AU’s student population: The Class of 2018, AU’s Greek community, and students with mental health issues. It also explores strategies for coping with changing demographics and creating an inclusive classroom.

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306: Innovative Examples from Online Teaching 

Mieke Meurs (CAS) (Chair), Lynne Arneson (CAS-BIO), Kristy Dekat (Deltak), and Wendy Melillo (SOC)

Are you looking for ways to freshen your online course? Wondering what specifically online possibilities make online teaching worthwhile? Three experienced online instructors share favorite, innovative course elements they have developed. The presentations focus on the questions of “what” and “why.”

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307: Open Educational Resources: Rethinking Course Content

Lucas Regner (CTRL) (Chair), Mike Carroll (WCL), Matthew Schruers (Georgetown University), and Ralph Sonenshine (CAS-ECON)

This session discusses the rising cost of textbooks, introduces the availability of Open Educational Resources (OERs), and guides AU faculty to some of the best instructional content available to them and their students.

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308: Developing an Honors Program for Your Unit

Larry Engel (SOC) (Chair), Sally Fowler (KSB-MGMT), Douglas Klusmeyer (SPA-JLC), Michael Manson (AU Honors Program), Mary Mintz (Library), and Lyn Stallings (Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies)

The university is creating honors programs for students to earn distinction in their field or related field of study. This session provides an opportunity for faculty to discuss with members of the Honors Advisory Committee the options and opportunities available in creating these new programs.

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309: Experiential Learner-Centered Teaching: Lessons from the Law School

Melinda Cooperman (WCL) (Chair), and Jessica Gallagher (Georgetown University)

This hands-on workshop offers concrete strategies that can be used to foster critical thinking skills and student engagement. It explores using experiential, discovery-based teaching techniques that can be used with any subject matter.

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310: Q&A with the Educational Policy Committee: Procedures in CAS

Matt Lantry (CAS) (Co-Chair) and Ximena Varela (CAS-PERF) (Co-Chair)

This session discusses current efforts to make the CAS Educational Policy Committee processes both easier and more effective; solicits insights and advice from faculty who have experience with proposing new courses, course changes, and innovations in program design; and answers participants’ questions regarding curricular design.

311: Using the Blackboard Grade Center

Library Staff

This workshop will show you how to use the grade center to manage student grades and assignments in Blackboard courses. You will learn how to set up assignments, practice weighting and downloading assignments, and providing feedback to students through the Grade Center.